In December last year receptionist Nicola Thorp stepped out her front door in a pair of smart black flats, ready for her first day at a new job.
She was expecting to spend the day answering phones and escorting clients to and from meetings. She certainly didn’t forsee she’d be home by lunchtime.
The 27-year-old London actress, who does temp work to make ends meet, was told her footwear wasn’t appropriate for the corporate finance company, PwC, and that she should go out and buy a pair of two to four inch heels.
(Hear Mia, Mons and Kate de Brito talk about how it’s been a bad week for high heels on Mamamia Out Loud this week. Post continues after audio.)
“When I arrived on site, I was turned away from work because I was not wearing high heels,” she told the Standard.
“I expressed my confusion as to why, and they explained that flat shoes are not part of their dress code for women.
“When I pointed out that my male colleague was allowed to work in flat shoes, and that I felt that I was being discriminated against, I was laughed at. I left feeling upset and confused.”
Thorp explains her situation on the BBC (post continues after video):
Thorp says she was also told to wear make up and had been supplied with a colour chart of “acceptable shades” before her first day.
Seething over the sexist double standard, she took to Facebook to express her frustration:
Her post received over 100 likes and elicited various responses from her friends, ranging from outrage to total and utter recognition.
“Women don’t belong in the workplace anyway. Or out of the 50s,” one joked.
“This happened to me when I was a student,” said another, “it’s a f*cking joke.”
One woman recalled having ‘fallen’ in the office after being forced to wear heels. She threatened to sue.
“It’s so sexist and does my head in,” she said.
Clearly Thorp is an outspoken feminist. Image: Facebook
In the UK it's legally acceptable for companies to have different dress standards for men and women, something Thorp and her friends are now seeking to change.
A petition to parliament to give working women the option of wearing formal flat shoes has already garnered more the 59,335 signatures.
"I was a bit scared about speaking up about it in case there was a negative backlash," Thorp told the Guardian.
"But I realised I needed to put a voice to this as it is a much bigger issue.
"I think dress codes should reflect society and nowadays women can be smart and wear flat shoes."
Feature image: Twitter (@MissNicolaSian)